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2nd Strategic Steering Committee Meeting. Abuja

The Strategic Steering Committee of the West Africa Competitiveness Programme (WACOMP) comprising of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania, the European Union (EU), the International Trade Centre (ITC), United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) commenced its second annual meeting on 30th October 2019 in Abuja, Nigeria with the aim of strengthening the competitiveness of West African Countries and enhancing their integration into the regional and international trading system.

The programme which is funded by the EU to the tune of 120 million euros and implemented with the assistance of ITC and UNIDO aims to support a number of selected value chains at the national and regional level to promote structural transformation and better access to regional and international markets while taking into account social and environmental concerns.

Speaking at the opening session of the meeting Mamadou Traore the Commissioner of Industry and Private Sector promotion of the ECOWAS Commission stated that the programme consists of one regional component and sixteen national components (15 ECOWAS Member States and Mauritania) and will be implemented in two phases covering eight countries per phase.

Mr Mamadou Traore, 2nd from right, to his immediate right, Mr Kurt Cornelis, and other dignitaries during the opening ceremony of the meeting

The Commissioner stressed that the effective implementation of the West Africa Competitiveness Programme will increase the success of the ECOWAS integration work program and contribute substantially to the delivery of the much-needed competitiveness in West Africa.

While noting several challenges of the business climate in the region, Commissioner Traore enthused that “WACOMP has the potential to provide our enterprises and institutions with the capabilities to lay the foundation for stimulating the actions that can challenge these limitations, promote competitiveness and begin to free our population from economic poverty”.

Also speaking during the opening session of the meeting Mr Kurt Cornelis, Head of Cooperation, EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, highlighted that it is important to stress the role of the Programme in a bigger EU Policy context, such as the new Africa-EU Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs.

“This programme builds the potential for investment and job creation in very concrete terms, bringing together key stakeholders such as policymakers, regulators, businesses, support organisations, and business associations”, he said.

The programme will also see the EU and ECOWAS set up a competitiveness observatory in West Africa which has a budget of 8 million euros. The Observatory will contribute to improving public and private sector access to reliable and comprehensive information and data which will enable policymakers to formulate, implement and monitor policies and strategies that will contribute to West Africa’s competitiveness.

The WACOMP Observatory also known as WACOB will achieve this by collecting qualitative and quantitative data and information on competitiveness from identified sources, create a database in order to provide relevant information and services for the public and private sectors as well as analyze and evaluate the impact of policies on trade, business and competitiveness performance in West Africa.